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Congresswoman Bachmann Would Support Drilling For Oil In Everglades National Park


It's been nearly four years since Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson said he would support drilling for oil beneath Everglades National Park if there were substantial reserves there.

Well, Mr. Thompson soon left that race, but another GOP presidential hopeful says she'd do the same thing if it could be done "responsibly."

U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann was quoted the other day in an Associated Press story that she wouldn't automatically rule the park off-limits if oil were found beneath it.

"The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that's in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is," she said. "Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn't do it."

Those comments immediately drew a reply from the Everglades Foundation.

"NRA card-carrying hunters, fishermen, waterfowlers, and other outdoors enthusiasts do not want to see oil drilling in their Everglades wildlife paradise. In addition, the Everglades is the source of fresh, clean drinking water for more than 7 million Floridians," the organization said. "Congresswoman Bachmann needs to understand that oil and drinking water do not mix.”


Rather than getting all excited about a hypothetical that will never happen, we national park lovers need to get mad at the 'wind farms' being proposed or developed near pristine areas.  A wind farm is going in near the Grand Canyon South Rim.  A wind farm is being proposed near the California poppy preserve. 
Wind farms are ugly blights on the landscape and environmentalists cannot be hypocrites about opposing them.  They kill raptors and bats in startling numbers.  When I see those huge propellers marching across formerly beautiful landscapes it makes me angry that because their political allies support wind farms, environmental groups don't get as active in opposing them as they do when it comes to mining or oil drilling. 
The least offensive extraction of energy is a gas well.  Have you ever seen one?  You probably haven't.  They are so small that they can be hidden with a small chain link fence and a few bushes.

Ecbuck - Here are some arguments I'll offer as "legitimate."

While I agree that decreasing our reliance on oil imported from areas such as the Middle East is desirable for many reasons, there are also valid reasons for continuing to keep areas such as national parks off-limits for oil and gas activity.

1. The "drill baby drill" crowd would have us believe that increasing domestic production will result in lower prices. Not true; as the oil companies frequently remind us, oil prices are set on an international market level (and driven as much by speculators as they are by supply and demand.) A report by the U. S. Senate Joint Economic Committee found that increasing domestic production has little effect on prices paid by consumers in the U.S.

2. Increased domestic production does not necessarily mean that oil stays in the U.S. According to the U. S. Energy Information Agency, the U. S. exported 2.3 million barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products during 2010. In short, what's drilled in Vegas doesn't all stay in Vegas - a significant percentage of oil drilled in the U. S. is sold overseas. Big oil sells wherever they can make the highest profit, so any oil extracted from places like the Everglades might increase Exxon's profits, but there's no guarantee it would even stay in the US.

3. Increased drilling on public lands may benefit big oil companies, but not necessarily American taxpayers. Due to legislation passed in the 1990s at the behest of oil-state congressmen and a contracting error made years ago by the Minerals Management Service, oil companies haven't paid a penny in royalties for some off-shore oil extracted from public lands. In short, big oil gets to remove and sell oil that belongs to the U.S. taxpayers without paying any of the usual royalties.

One estimate of the lost revenue to the U. S. Treasury from just the leases issued between 1996 and 2000 is over $50 billion dollars. Think we could use that money right now to help with the deficit? Anybody like to suggest that the oil companies have given American consumers any breaks on the price we pay for gas in exchange for all that free oil we've given the companies?

4. Less than half of our oil was imported in 2010, and only 18% came from the Middle East; most imported oil came from the Western Hemisphere; Canada is our leading foreign source. (Source).  U.S. production is already increasing, and industry sources see big potential for existing fields in the U.S. (Source).

5.  The amount of oil that could be extracted from areas such as national parks is unknown, but even at optimistic estimates it would likely replace a only tiny fraction of oil currently imported. The trade-off?  Irreplaceable natural and scenic resources would be lost in exchange for a literal drop in the bucket for our oil needs. I've lived and worked in and around parts of Texas that have seen drilling activity for over a century, including some which have been out of production for that long. The damage from oil and gas activity isn't reversible.

6. Perhaps most important is this question: why even consider drilling on every possible acre now? Do we have any responsibility for future generations? Even the most wildly optimistic supporters of alternative energy sources have to admit that our current economy will need oil for decades to come. For better or worse, oil is used for countless products other than gasoline. Where will the next generation or two get that oil if we're so determined to find and extract every possible gallon today?

For the Bachmann's of the world who can't accept the non-economic values of places such as national parks and the Arctic, there should be some thought given to leaving any oil under those areas as reserves for the needs of the next generation. The only possible reason to do otherwise is simply greed and blatant self-interest.

[color=#000000]The more we redefine parks in terms of global commodities--the Everglades as an oil field, the Grand Canyon as a uranium deposit--the harder it becomes to preserve and protect these places.  In other words, the more they are revalued as commodities, the less these places appear as parks, and they come to resemble transparent containers for commodities.  In that scenario, how could one ever defend not mining and drilling in them?  And once they're defined as global commodities, there is nothing distinctly American about them.  It's like discovering a pile of expensive stones and colored glass that people once saw as a cathedral.[/color]That's my argument, ecbuck.

The solution to this problem is simple: make it illegal to explore for oil or other mineral resources in national parks. If we don't know what's underground in the parks there won't be presure to drill. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

First - Kurt:  You think everyone should personally fact check everything they see in the media?  Good luck on that one. Have you personally fact checked every report you have cited on this blog?  I think not.   She repeated information reported in the media and identified it as such.  She didn't "go off" on anything.

For Lee:  doing drilling "wisely and with due cautions" is what everyone wants and there was nothing in Bachmann's statement to suggest otherwise.  As to the terrorist charge - I apologize, that was not you but an Anon who said "So, I have to ask, are you an environmentalist or a terrorist?"

For Justin - I still haven't seen a legitimate argument.  Heck I haven't seen any argument other than demagoguery.  Please tell me why drilling should be "automatically ruled out".

ecbuck wrote,

" Unfortunately - as exhibited on this board - too many fit."
And since environmentalists are, as you say, "often" terrorists, I imagine we may very well have a few terrorists posting here, too.

"Of all the post so far, not one has made a legitimate argument to refute Bachmann's statement or suggest why it is wrong. No one has made an argument (other than demagoguery) why it should be automatically ruled out."

Take another look at the arguments, which address Bachman's language, her relationship to science, as well as competing values about what a national park is.  To say none of the arguments on this thread is "legitimate" is to recognize only one criteria (set of values) to judge the legitimacy of the arguments--yours; it's a mark of ideology.

EC, my definition of "environmentalist" is a synonym for "wise steward."  I am not -- and most of my acquaintances are not -- simply opposed to all drilling and mining.  We just believe it should be done wisely and with all due precaution.  It should not place profit margins first.  That should be secondary to implementing adequate safeguards to prevent water, air and other forms of pollution.  It would never include sabotage or terrorism of any kind. 

There are, unfortuately, extremists in all things.  You point out environmental extremists, I could point out others.  While it may be true that some of the "spikers" had Sierra Club cards in their pockets, they no more represented the Sierra Club than Timothy McVeigh represented any sane group of Americans.

As for your charge that I have called anyone who is not an environmentalist a terrorist, I'm scratching my head on that one.  Will you show us the quote?

Now, it's probably time to give this a rest.  We're quibbling over semantics and seem to have lost sight of the important issue --- what is wise use of resources and what is not?

I wonder if she'd park a drilling rig in front of the Lincoln Memorial if there were 20 million barrels of oil beneath it?

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